2020-2021 Christmas Bird Counts: 100 Mile House and Creston
An unusual Christmas Bird Count season is coming to a close. This was my first year coordinating the 100 Mile House Christmas Bird Count, but pandemic restrictions meant I was unable to be there in person. A great group of volunteer bird counters made the day a smashing success, with 44 species on count day and 1031 birds. Warmer weather and open water on Horse Lake and Bridge Creek, combined with the work of astute observers and photographers, made for a high waterfowl count. These including unusual-in-winter Tundra Swans and Greater Scaup. Yellow-headed Blackbird and Northern Hawk-owl topped the list of highlights. Black-backed Woodpecker and Great Gray Owl were among the five count week birds. 44 may not seem like much of a count to a coastal birder, but it dwarfs the average count of 25 species. Thanks to all those who helped out!
The good folks at 100 Mile Free Press published an article about the December 17 count here featuring myself and some keen count participants.
Creston Valley Wildlife Area from above
Meanwhile in the Creston Valley I joined two bird counts: the Creston count on December 27 and the Kuskanook/Duck Lake count on January 3. Booth were organized by Ulrike Sliworsky, the coordinator of the Creston Valley Bird Fest. For the Creston count I surveyed parts of Nick's Island, the Creston Valley Wildlife Area, and West Creston. Highlights included a Mountain Bluebird, a Yellow-headed Blackbird, and a low-elevation Clark's Nutcracker. In all I tallied 36 birds. The total for the count was a solid 79 species.
Mountain Bluebird on Nick's Island
On January 3 Marc-Andre Beaucher and I divided up Duck Lake and south Kootenay Lake. I counted 54 species, including a good number of ducks, geese and coots. Hunting Short-eared Owls at dawn and a roosting Great Horned Owl were favourites. The counts were a fitting conclusion to a great year-and-a-half birding in Creston.
See you next Christmas Bird Count season!
Great Horned Owl near Duck Lake